The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#21. Butch and the Excessive Firewood
Amazon - Episode 12

This is a moment that nearly everybody requested I put on the Funny 115. And to this day, it remains one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen on Survivor. In fact I honestly can't think of another moment like it. Butch Lockley's maniacal obsession with firewood represents one of the few times on the show where a Survivor may have actually broken away from reality for a little while.

I know that Survivor fans (and players) love to joke that certain people on the show are "crazy". Or that such-and-such player is "nuts." Hell, I know I've done it several times on this list (most notably when talking about Mike Skupin and Brian Heidik's wife, C.C.) But we all know those are just jokes. Nobody really believes that Mike Skupin is crazy. Nobody really believes that C.C. Heidik is crazy. Nobody really believes that Matthew von Ertfelda is crazy.

Er... wait. Okay, bad example. Strike that last one.

Matthew von Dahmer

But when you're talking about Butch Lockley at the end of Amazon, you're talking about a guy who actually did seem to escape into kookoo-for-cocoa-puffs land for a little while. Butch started acting very strangely at the end of the Amazon season, and it's entirely possible he may have literally gone off to his happy place somewhere.

And nowhere was this more evident than in his fanatical never-ending quest to find fahrwood firewood.

It was the twelfth episode of Survivor: The Amazon and the players noticed that principal Butch Lockley was starting to act a little bit strange. Now, up to this point, Butch had been considered a fairly normal guy. True, he did quirky things sometimes (like the time he got drunk and soiled himself, or the time he wouldn't look at a naked Jenna and Heidi), but for the most part Butch was just your average, every day, middle-aged school principal. He did some strange things, sure, but then again who didn't? There was no reason at all to suspect that Butch would one day go off the deep end.

But come episode twelve, the players start noticing that Butch is acting a little bit strange. Maybe it's from the stress of the game. Maybe it's because they've been subsisting completely on dried manioc. Or maybe it's from having to listen to Heidi talk for the past thirty-three days. No matter what the cause, everybody notices that Butch is starting to do bizarre and strange things around camp.

Like this dance.

Rob laughing at the Butch dance

Butch's Egyptian dance elicits gasps of horror from the unprepared onlookers, but the thing that really alarms people is Butch's newfound obsession with firewood. Because around episode twelve, the rest of the players realize that Butch has been stockpiling dry firewood. And when I say stockpiling, I mean STOCKPILING. Butch is suddenly on a never-ending crusade to gather dry firewood. He appears to be somewhat obsessed by this task, he is going way over the top in gathering the amount of wood the tribe will actually need, and the rest of the Amazon players of course find this incredibly funny.

"Butch has a boner for firewood."

The tribe already has way more wood than they could possibly use (especially since the game will only last six more days!). But here comes Butch, trudging in and out of the jungle like a lumberjack possessed. And he isn't just gathering firewood. Butch is practically committing a hate crime. He appears to have declared a Jihad against the tree-laden Amazonian forest. And once the other players realize this, once they realize that Butch has officially lost his mind over the firewood, they honestly can't stop laughing about it.

"I don't know what Butch's obsession with firewood is. When Butch wakes up in the morning, the first thing he says is 'We need to go get some firewood!' When he gets back from getting firewood, he says 'I think we need to get some more wood!' And he's adamant about the wood."

But Rob's not alone in his newfound love for Butch and Butch's beloved firewood quest. This is officially now the biggest running joke in the Amazon. So all the non-Matt members of Jacare just sit around, and joke about the fact that:

A) Butch is going to clear the entire forest before the game reaches day 39
B) Butch doesn't appear to realize he has crossed over into crazy land
C) The tribe can now build a replacement Heidi and Jenna out of all the twigs and sticks that Butch has brought back
and D) Butch is now officially crazier than Matthew

Butch > Matt

So now everybody gets into the act. Rob isn't the only one cracking wise about this subject. Once the whole tribe gets into the spirit of things, now everybody is making firewood jokes. Now it becomes a contest of who can top everyone else with the best Butch firewood quote.

"I don't know what he does. I don't know if he talks to the wood...?"

(Note: Not a lot of people know this, but Jenna is actually pretty funny in real life. If you have never listened to the All-Stars DVD Commentaries, you are really missing out. In fact I'll go out on a limb and say that Jenna is just as funny as Rob C. when they're sitting there making MST3K jokes about the episodes. I actually think the All-Star DVD commentaries are better than the actual episodes.)

So what were my favorite parts of the "Butch is crazy/Butch is sexually aroused by firewood" episode? Well actually I have four of them. There are four wonderful quotes by Rob Cesternino about Butch that probably could have made this list on their own. In fact this is probably Rob's funniest episode of them all (and that's saying something). So anyway here are my favorite four moments from Butch and the Excessive Firewood. Or, if you prefer, "Mario's favorite four Cesternino quotes about Butch." Because that's actually a more appropriate title.

Rob carrying firewood under Butch's orders

1. At the start of episode twelve, Butch recruits Rob to help him carry wood back and forth from the forest. And after a few trips, Rob realizes that he's been deputized as the assistant tree gatherer. And this leads to one of my favorite Cesternino quotes from the season:

"I don't know how I necessarily became the junior deputy firewood bitch."

Butch and his firewood apprentice

2. Rob comments on Butch's increasingly bizarre behavior, saying that he's so far gone now that even Matthew is starting to question Butch's sanity.

"When this game is over, I think Butch is gonna need to see a therapist. Even Matthew says 'Butch is psychotic He's crazy!'

"... And when Matt is saying you're crazy, you are out of your fricking mind!"

3. Matt wins the reward challenge in episode twelve, and takes Rob along with him for a picnic lunch. And Rob gets off two of his better lines of the season when he sees that they've been given a small barbecue grill to use for lunch.

"Too bad Butch isn't here, cause we're lighting a fire."

"Butch is gonna be so jealous. We got coal."

4. The Jacare shelter burns down at the end of episode twelve. This is 99.99 percent because Butch had stored so much dry firewood around their campsite. The other .01 percent is the off-chance that maybe Heidi was somehow the mastermind behind it. But anyway, the shelter burns down, all their luxury items and personal belongings are destroyed, and Rob takes the time to comment on this in another one of his great confessionals from this episode.

"I'm not one for conspiracy theories. But I do know this. With about 137 days worth of dry wood, our camp burned to the ground. Was there a connection? I don't know. I'm not one to point fingers."

*cough* BUTCH! *cough*

So anyway that's the story of Butch Lockley and the excessive firewood. He came to the Amazon, he lost his mind, he declared Holy War against the Amazonian forest, and then he burned down the shelter. He may not have won the game, true, but that's really not all that bad for 39 days' work. After all, it's not every player who can be responsible for something like this on Survivor:

Butch is dismayed when he sees the remains of the shelter. Even worse, he sees the now-empty stockpiles of Amazonian firewood. All that wonderful firewood. All destroyed! And for nothing!

But Butch isn't worried. He knows exactly what has to be done. They now need to replenish the collection.


P.S. There's an amusing postscript to this moment. It happens in the Amazon finale when Butch is nearly killed by a falling tree branch at the final tribal Council. He stands up to give his jury speech, he walks over to address the final two, and... then... WHAM!

I've always enjoyed the fact that the Amazonian jungle nearly killed Butch on his very last day in the game. Because if that isn't some sort of karma, I don't know what is. "You cut down my trees, I drop a branch on your head. Do you still believe in yourself now, mister 'I've got a branch embedded in my skull??' Muhahaha."

Either that, or Heidi made the tree branch fall with her telekinesis.

Hard to tell.

P.P.S. Here's a random bonus Cesternino quote from this episode:

*laughing* "I don't want to be on a team with Butch. *laughing*

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